{ Co-designed and fisher-driven ICTs towards transformation of small-scale fisheries governance, ‘from hook to cook}

The ABALOBI initiative is an open, transdisciplinary and social learning endeavour, bringing together various stakeholders, with traditional fishers taking centre stage. ABALOBI, as a mobile app suite and programme, is aimed at social justice and poverty alleviation in the small-scale fisheries chain, transformation in the way we produce knowledge, stewardship of our marine resources, and resilience building in the face of climate change.

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Many of our team members, including the small-scale fishers of South Africa, were integrally involved in the design of South Africa’s new Small-Scale Fisheries Policy, which emanated from a Constitutional Court Order and international human and fishing rights obligations. ABALOBI brings us together as an extension of our research, advocacy and policy work, and launches us into implementation and co-operative governance.
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{ Working towards good governance and embracing a human-rights-based approach to fisheries: Through the development of an integrated small-scale fisheries information management system and mobile app suite, the ABALOBI initiative aims to enable small-scale fishing communities to be incorporated into information and resource networks: from fishery monitoring and maritime safety, to local development and market opportunities }

ABALOBI, isiXhosa for small-scale fisher, is the name given to the app suite by small-scale fisherfolk involved in the co-development process


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    Promoting stewardship

    Fishers encouraged to serve as custodians and promote sustainability. Allows opportunity for integration with conservation efforts.

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    Empowerment in the value chain

    Working towards community-supported fisheries and traceable slowfish. Empowerment through market information and collective action.

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    Co-operative fisheries governance

    Using a common knowledge base, based on fishers’ daily data, all stakeholders at the co-management table are poised equally.

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    Ecosystems approach to fisheries

    Decisions by fishers and other stakeholders can be based on ecological and social indicators.

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    Climate change adaptation

    Improved safety at sea and resilience building in the face of climate change.

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    Enabling tool for policy implementation

    Small-Scale Fisheries Policy (South Africa) and UN-FAO Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (International)

{ What started as a participatory action research project with a strong community development interface, has evolved into a social enterprise that is now being registered as a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) and public benefit entity to better serve its fisher-driven mission }

Transdisciplinary research

Stakeholders work together in framing the problem and research needs, leading to the co-design of the tool based on input and tests in real-life contexts.

Co-design and fisher-driven process

Ensures data ownership and trust. Practical development and implementation within a bottom-up, participatory framework. Focus on product, process and enabling policy.

Open source & free for small-scale fishers

Leveraging the latest tech and open source platforms. Sharing innovations globally.

Recognition of fishers’ knowledge

Bridging local knowledge with science and policy. Developing knowledge for co-management.

ICT4D for small-scale fisheries: The ABALOBI initiative is about catalysing real transformation, of knowledge generation, of people, and of resource governance


The ABALOBI app suite comprises five inter-connected apps – conceptualised in a co-design process and currently in various stages of development and testing. The five apps cover the full spectrum of stakeholders in the small-scale fisheries sector from hook to cook, governance and beyond. Learn more …


The foundation of the app suite where fishers co–produce knowledge. Personal logbook with sharing options. Safety-at-sea integrations. More ...


Digitised community catch monitoring at the landing site & along the shoreline. More ...


Real-time fishery data & communications for co-management. More ...


Co-operative member & fleet management. Collective & transparent accounting. Catch value-adding. More ...


Fish with an ecological & social ‘story‘. Towards community-supported fisheries. Empowerment in the value chain. More ...

International reach

Beyond South Africa: An open source approach to the development of the ABALOBI platform seeks to allow customisation and use by small-scale fisheries stakeholders worldwide, aligned with the implementation of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation’s (FAO’s) Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries.


Aligned with the United Nations SDGs


Founding partners


Get involved

We are seeking to expand our partnerships and procure additional funding for the continued development of ABALOBI. We welcome expressions of interest from prospective funders and research, technology & implementation partners ...

In the news


Have a burning question for us? Scuttle over to #TEDx #TEDxCapeTownSalon on 8 December where co-founder Serge Raemaekers will be talking all things #ICT4Fisheries, #smallscalefisheries and data meets local ecological knowledge. Event details in link below 👉 ... See MoreSee Less


December 6, 2017, 6:00pm - December 8, 2017, 7:30pm

An intimate setting (80ppl) for you and others who are passionate about our oceans, sustainability a...

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Fish with a social & ecological story | #fishwithastory

Where does your fish come from? Was it caught responsibly? Who caught it, and how? This infographic sums up our #ICT4Fisheries approach #fromhooktocook: for traceable, storied seafood by empowered #smallscalefishers ...

Five carefully co-designed apps piece together to form our #hooktocook system, which enables the processing and marketing of fish and other marine resources with an ecological & social ‘story’ in a manner that is fully traceable along the value chain. The goal? Empowerment in the value chain and the development of fisher-community-based eco- & social-labelling. These apps, part of the ABALOBI suite, form the retail channel of the process which allows fishers to supply local and global markets interested in sourcing seafood that is fair, credible and has a low environmental impact.

With an integrated mobile payment platform and accounting functionality, the system has the potential to maximise inter-operability with a multitude of other #fintech services and tools to facilitate accessible, transparent business development for small-scale fishers. A key value proposition is that this component allows fisher groups to valorise non-quota, less ‘mainstream’ species towards community- and restaurant-supported fisheries.

This week we showcased the system to our partners at WWF South Africa SASSI initiative and several early adapters, including restaurateurs in Cape Town who have expressed the desire to buy local, fresh, quality seafood that is not only ecologically responsible but socially fair. Supporting small-scale fishers, supporting local. ‘Local is lekker!’

#traceability #responsiblefish #fairfish #smallscalefisheries #fishwithastory #sustainabilty #proudlySouthAfrican #fintech #ICT4D #valuechain
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We received a Development Award at this year's SAB Foundation Social Innovation & Disability Empowerment Awards. The foundation put together a pitch for each finalist in this year's awards - here's ours featuring ABALOBI co-founders Nico Waldeck & Serge Raemaekers ... ... See MoreSee Less

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Fish with a story || "Visvang is in ons bloed" (Fishing is in our blood) ...

This is the social storytelling, from hook to cook, that ABALOBI seeks to portray to the end consumer:

Born into a family of traditional fisherfolk at Skipskop on the Southern Cape coast of South Africa, Oom Seranie started fishing at the age of 14. The patriarch of his family, he still goes out to sea to fish at the respectable age of 76. Having endured the forcible displacement of his community from Skipskop under the Apartheid regime, the pain of which is still evident, Oom Seranie's determination to continue his fishing heritage materialised in 1982 when he purchased a traditional wooden chukkie boat in Struisbaai, under agreement to pay the boat off with 10 cents from every fish caught. He named this boat, his pride and joy, 'Weltevrede', which means 'content' in Afrikaans. He boasts that the boat still has the same engine because he has nurtured it like a child: "'n Boot is soos 'n kind. As hy huil, moet jy hom optel en troos. Jy moet mooi na hom kyk." (A boat is like a child. If it cries, you must pick it up and comfort it. You must take care of it). Oom Seranie's son, Theunis, now captains the vessel and uses ABALOBI to record their fishing activities. Theunis has been instrumental in the co-development and use of ABALOBI in this region.

These fisherfolk have nurtured a relationship with the sea for generations, fishing sustainably long before the term was coined by the western world. Their resilience has been remarkable in the face of adversities such as forcible removal from their homes and traditional fishing grounds, the struggle for recognition of their fishing rights (their human rights), the threat of commercial fisheries to their livelihoods, and more recently, increasing vulnerability given the effects of climate variability and change.

These photographs of father and son were taken last week as they launched Weltevrede back into the water for the start of the Summer fishing season. Oom Seranie's great-grandson (age 3) looked on from the harbour wall, determined that he, too, will go to sea to fish one day with the family.

Recognised South African singer David Kramer sings about the injustice of the Skipskop displacement in his song "Skipskop" (scroll down for English translation – credit: www.thejournalist.org.za/spotlight/ocean-grabbing-robbing-people-dignity-livelihoods ) ...

"pak op, pak op
sit jou goedjies op jou kop
môre gaan ons weg,
ver van hier weg
skipskop, skipskop,
wanneer hou die dinge op
swaarkry le net voor
die blou berge oor
overberg se mens
isse ek gebore,
op die plek skipskop
nes my pa en sy pa ook.
hier deurie duine, loop onse spore
hier op die beach hier langs die see is ek gedoop
maar wat ken ek anders
as die bloudam se branders
die wolke en die winde wat hier waai
maar verkoop jou bootjie, pak op jou goedjies
en se maar so long skipskop, skipskop se goodbye
linkerhand, o die regterhand
wat se kant le die plek, misverstand
'seblief meneer, ag se tog weer
is dit die pad wat ons moet more vat
'n stukkie le hier en 'n stukkie le daar
stukkies van my lewe hulle le deurmekaar
tel op tel op vir shorty en vir pop
gaan haal vir apie en hou daai kindjie dop
maar wat ken ek anders
as die blou dam se branders
die wolke en die winde wat hier waai
pak op jou goedjies, pak op jou goedjies,
se maar so long skipskop skipskop se goodbye
se maar so long skipskop skipskop se goodbye"

(Pack up pack up
Put your bags on your head
Tomorrow we go away
far away from here
Skipskop, Skipskop
When does it all end
Hardship lies just beyond
The blue mountains yonder
I’m a child of the Overberg
Here I was born
Here at Skipskop
Like my father and his father way back
In these dunes lie all our tracks
Here on the beach, by the seaside I was born
But what can I do
I am one with these blue waters
I am the clouds and the winds that blow here
But sell your little boat, pack up your things
And say so long Skipskop, Skipskop say goodbye
And say so long Skipskop, Skipskop say goodbye
To the right or to the left
Where are we going, such confusion
Please sir, just tell me again
Is this the road that tomorrow we all have to follow
A piece lies here and a piece lies there
Pieces of my life scattered everywhere
Pick up Shorty and pick up the doll
Go fetch that little monkey and watch the kid

But what can I do
I am one with these blue waters
I am the clouds and the winds that blow here
But sell your little boat, pack up your things
And say so long Skipskop, Skipskop say goodbye
And say so long Skipskop, Skipskop say goodbye)

#smallscalefisheries #climatechange #ICT4Fisheries #sustainableseafood #sustainablefish #fishwithastory
Stuart du Plessis, Emily Newman
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